Original art by @modográfico

Venezuela’s Orwellianly awful Consumer Protection, SUNDDE, is now involved in a strange game of administrative reductio ad absurdum. Last month, they more or less shut down the food retail sector by pioneering a politer-kind-of-looting. SUNDDE officials would raid a store, check prices, scream “speculation” or “hoarding”, force merchants to lower their prices too far below inventory replacement costs, call on Venezuelans to empty store shelves and then hope somehow merchants would allow it to happen all again. A formula applied and perfected since, at least, 2013.

This amounted to little short of confiscation: forcing merchants into financing the populist policies of the Maduro government.

Of course, after the raids of January 2018, supermarkets knew they wouldn’t restock their shelves. They called SUNDDE’s bluff. Since the government doesn’t have enough dollars to fill shelves with imported goods, it had to tuck its tail between its legs and negotiate.

In the logic of the 21st Century Socialism, someone other than the government and its irresponsible economic policies must be to blame.

In a miraculous flash of self-awareness, SUNDDE grasped that their policy was giving precious little reason for retailers to restock, so they actually began issuing “legal assurances”, pledging that, in the future, they wouldn’t face raids and enforcement actions aimed at forcing them to sell at a loss. Pinky promise.

So it was not the shopkeepers’ fault after all. Huh.

In the logic of the 21st Century Socialism, someone other than the government and its irresponsible economic policies must be to blame.

So the government took its witch-hunt up the value chain, to the agrifood industry.

Following Maduro’s lead, on January 16th, Executive Vice President Tareck El Aissami claimed that the prices charged by agroindustrial companies are “criminal” and ordered them to be at December levels. He also instructed Gran Misión Abastecimiento Seguro and SUNDDE to ensure that all companies comply, or “the full weight of the law” would fall on them.

You can bet they’ll go through the whole absurd rigamarole again with farmers. And when farmers get offered “guarantees”, they’ll go after the seed-and-fertilizer companies.

The very next day, SUNDDE started going after agroindustrial companies.

What came next was predictable. The food processors passed the buck. CAVIDEA, the Agribusiness associations, said —reasonably enough— that the rise in prices is due to a rise in input costs and difficulties getting dollars.

Now food processors are being forced to sell off their stocks far below its replacement price, teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and, making things worse, the government is using the “contraband” wild card to ban agrifood exports that don’t have a BCV currency certification, suspending sea and air transports to Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao.

The Venezuelan Association of Exporters (AVEX), said this decision “turns Venezuelan export companies into unreliable suppliers in the international markets and therefore susceptible of being replaced by another provider.” Against all logic, Maduro’s administration decided to further block exports as a source of foreign currency for the national non-oil industry.

Making life difficult for agro-processors does the opposite than fix the supply problem. Soon, SUNDDE will eventually realize it has to extend the same no-more-raids guarantees to them too, and the sooner the better, since supermarkets are still stripped to the bone two weeks after receiving “legal assurances” to restock.

At which point you can bet they’ll go through the whole absurd rigamarole again with farmers. And when farmers get offered “guarantees”, I guess they’ll go after the seed-and-fertilizer companies, except whoopsie daisy they already expropriated those!

There’s no telling when SUNDDE will realize there’s no end to this. You can keep down the rabbit hole until you’re faced with the real culprits, the ones who set it all in motion: Maduro and the pajarito who whispers sweet nothings in his ear.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. Its frightening , have gone to different supermarkets and found long corridors of empty shelves , no staples on display except for those no one ever buys because they are too expensive or very seldom bought except on very rare occassions, very few items to buy , have also done long chaotic queues to buy a singly solitary staple of secondary usefulness only to be told in the end that they have all been sold out ……, same story from relatives and friends who have gone thru the same experience…., at one supermarket told right off dont bother there is nothing expected to come today….at another usually well attended one in the eastern tip of caracas that they would be closing shortly …for good ……….how are people to feed themselves ?? in the queues people are wan , slowmoving , the sacks they carry to store their food almost always entirely empty , (even if they come from visiting other stores earlier in their daily sujourn for food ) the look on their eyes lusterless, distracted ……….., all of this only to feed the ravenous narcicism of some corrupt inept men for whom holding on to power by whatever means it the obessesive need of their lives !!

    • Bill,
      The regime has no choice but to hold onto power. The regime leadership have painted themselves into a corner with no place to go.
      I am hoping that they begin to turn on each other.
      The internal pressures on the regime must be increasing. The members that may have had their stolen fortunes frozen due to sanctions (Assami’s 1/2 billion), must be coveting the fortunes that others have amassed and so far have been successful in protecting.
      There may be many reasons for this. Some members simply have not been sanctioned. It seems that this would create an atmosphere of paranoia and suspicion. People may be questioning whether some regime members are clandestinely cooperating with the US or other entities.
      The lowest level enlisted military members that reports claim are suffering malnutrition while confined to barracks, may be disillusioned with the overweight generals that seem to lack for nothing. The families members of these soldiers are suffering the same indignities that the majority of the population is afflicted with. Reports of desertions and increasing insubordination have been recorded.
      MRubio mentioned how irate Cabello was after the EU sanctions. Musing that most likely assets that he may have considered safely out of the reach of authorities are no longer available to him.
      The military now being in control of what remains of the oil infrastructure, is witnessing the transfer of wealth to Cuba and other countries, while they themselves suffer. I would think that resentment towards the Cuban “advisors” that have infiltrated much of the government and military must be growing. At some point this military that is keeping the regime in power is going to realize that they are dooming their own families to the same suffering that the rest of the country is enduring. The conscripted soldiers in the Soviet military usually were posted somewhere other than their home region. This was deliberate to prevent the military from refusing to act against their own people. The National Guard soldiers are serving in the same communities that they live in. This has to cause doubt as to “how far” they will go to support the regime.
      I still believe that a government collapse is inevitable. Whether anarchy or an orderly transition will follow is the biggest unknown.
      I learned long ago to never put someone in a position, where they feel they have nothing left to lose. People act irrationally and violently when they feel that all is lost. Venezuela has reached the point where both sides have nothing left to lose. A starving population that is facing a regime that feels that their demise is certain once they are out of power, is a powderkeg with a lit fuse.

  2. Great news. Hope the disastrous Kleptozuelan economy gets even worse. Until the shit really hits the fan.

    No more laughable salary raises or perniles or aguinaldos until the elections huge fraud. Let’s hope the economy is the worst any country has ever seen on the planet, or worse by then. Ironically, Chavistas love the Imperio’s national game, well, it’s gonna be a delightful Baseball ending: 3 strikes and they’re out. Horrible economy, Maduro’s ugly face and the obviously fraudulent election. Game over by June.

    • Add to that that everytime maduro appears in public, he gets something to eat in front of his starving audience.

      The guy is truly a sadist.

  3. “It’s obvious: the agrifood guild, CAVIDEA, now claims that the rise in prices is due to a rise in input costs and difficulties getting dollars. ”

    Even if a business is 100% based in bolivares, how can one not raise prices with inflation roaring ahead? You have to, just to keep your head above water.

    • Looking online for replacement money for a Monopoly game, $20,580 worth of new Monopoly money costs $7.
      2,940 to the US Dollar. Kind of depressing when your money is worth less than 1/80th of Monopoly money.
      Anything smaller than the 20,000 bs note costs more to print than it is worth.
      Behind all of the statistics are people suffering a completely avoidable Hell.
      Compared to other tragedies and humanitarian crises throughout the world, the plight of the people of Venezuela is not given the attention that the number one humanitarian crisis in the Western Hemisphere should demand. Everyday I find myself trying to explain what is happening to someone.
      I believe that the media would be up in arms if the regime was right wing and aligned with the US. It seems that many in the media that idolized Chavez, just don’t seem to consider Venezuela worthy of the attention that the people deserve and need.
      If the Liberal elite would condemn maduro with a fraction of the enthusiasm that they had for Chavez, at the very least the plight of the Venezuelan people would be widely understood throughout the world.
      Giving the Devil his due, there have been reports in US and international media outlets. The fervor and continual updates that occur for other stories just doesn’t exist.

  4. Keeping in mind- “In the logic of the 21st Century Socialism, someone – other than the government and its irresponsible economic policies – must be to blame.” The next place for them to blame is “dark energy”. (nobody knows what it is – but it seems logical for me (LOL)

  5. The liberals are embarrassed and simply want to hide.
    They do not care for the people, just the idealized cause.

    The conservatives are screaming “history, logic, and economics has once again,
    proven the fallacy that there is any type or any reiteration of the socialist way that actually works.
    They do not care for the people, as they have little compassion for the majority that voted, and allowed this destruction to occur in the name of ‘My country, my oil, my pension”

    and the world can give a shit. There is no bloodshed, there is no protests, there is no destruction, no bombs, no assassinations, there is “relatively” no starvation.

    Venezuela has become the laughing stock of the world.

    A fun loving loud mouthed country, with riches in oil, natural resources, and a land of beauty, who ignores the rot from within, because all it takes is a bribe to make that rot go away.

    • Oh, no, there ARE bloodshed, protests, assassinations and starvation.

      But they are completely covered by the regime’s censorship.

      Because that’s the convenient thing to the invaders that took over the country.

  6. “Against all logic, Maduro’s administration decided to further block exports as a source of foreign currency for the national non-oil industry.”

    It’s not against logic.

    It goes PERFECTLY with THEIR logic, because that’s part of how they keep their MONOPOLY on the currency.

    It’s incredible that people who study the issue still believe that chavismo honestly has people that doesn’t know what they’re doing.

  7. One quibble. SUNDDE didn’t pioneer the loot-the-supermarket gambit. A friend described to me how in the early 1950s, Juan Peron and Elvita Peron arrived in her town, Cordoba, with a military escort. They entered the supermarket, announced that the prices were way too high, and invited neighbours to come on down and help themselves. My friend’s parents heard it on the radio, but had the integrity (and economic well-being) to refuse.

    • It happened in almost every country that was invaded by communists.

      One customer that lives in Sweden told me how her family of chilean heritage had to flee from Chile when Allende started to f**k the country with the expropiations and price controls, losing a farm they had as their sustenance.

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